Not experiened with Ubuntu. Set up a dhcp server about a year ago but don't remember the command to see the active leases.

7 Answers 7


Try checking the lease file /var/lib/dhcp/dhcpd.leases

  • 3
    Nothing at /var/lib/dhcp/dhcpd on Ubuntu v21 . Sep 4, 2021 at 23:35
  • @SopalajodeArrierez So why not search where it is located instead?
    – Marki
    Nov 16, 2022 at 18:52
  • Well, I would do it gladly, @Marki , but where is that? Nov 22, 2022 at 13:27
  • Where is what? Use the find command to search the filesystem.
    – Marki
    Nov 24, 2022 at 19:10

Our organization uses a Python script, as posted below, to examine the /var/lib/dhcp/dhcpd.leases file:

import datetime, bisect

def parse_timestamp(raw_str):
        tokens = raw_str.split()

        if len(tokens) == 1:
                if tokens[0].lower() == 'never':
                        return 'never';

                        raise Exception('Parse error in timestamp')

        elif len(tokens) == 3:
                return datetime.datetime.strptime(' '.join(tokens[1:]),
                        '%Y/%m/%d %H:%M:%S')

                raise Exception('Parse error in timestamp')

def timestamp_is_ge(t1, t2):
        if t1 == 'never':
                return True

        elif t2 == 'never':
                return False

                return t1 >= t2

def timestamp_is_lt(t1, t2):
        if t1 == 'never':
                return False

        elif t2 == 'never':
                return t1 != 'never'

                return t1 < t2

def timestamp_is_between(t, tstart, tend):
        return timestamp_is_ge(t, tstart) and timestamp_is_lt(t, tend)

def parse_hardware(raw_str):
        tokens = raw_str.split()

        if len(tokens) == 2:
                return tokens[1]

                raise Exception('Parse error in hardware')

def strip_endquotes(raw_str):
        return raw_str.strip('"')

def identity(raw_str):
        return raw_str

def parse_binding_state(raw_str):
        tokens = raw_str.split()

        if len(tokens) == 2:
                return tokens[1]

                raise Exception('Parse error in binding state')

def parse_next_binding_state(raw_str):
        tokens = raw_str.split()

        if len(tokens) == 3:
                return tokens[2]

                raise Exception('Parse error in next binding state')

def parse_rewind_binding_state(raw_str):
        tokens = raw_str.split()

        if len(tokens) == 3:
                return tokens[2]

                raise Exception('Parse error in next binding state')

def parse_leases_file(leases_file):
        valid_keys = {
                'starts':               parse_timestamp,
                'ends':                 parse_timestamp,
                'tstp':                 parse_timestamp,
                'tsfp':                 parse_timestamp,
                'atsfp':                parse_timestamp,
                'cltt':                 parse_timestamp,
                'hardware':             parse_hardware,
                'binding':              parse_binding_state,
                'next':                 parse_next_binding_state,
                'rewind':               parse_rewind_binding_state,
                'uid':                  strip_endquotes,
                'client-hostname':      strip_endquotes,
                'option':               identity,
                'set':                  identity,
                'on':                   identity,
                'abandoned':            None,
                'bootp':                None,
                'reserved':             None,

        leases_db = {}

        lease_rec = {}
        in_lease = False
        in_failover = False

        for line in leases_file:
                if line.lstrip().startswith('#'):

                tokens = line.split()

                if len(tokens) == 0:

                key = tokens[0].lower()

                if key == 'lease':
                        if not in_lease:
                                ip_address = tokens[1]

                                lease_rec = {'ip_address' : ip_address}
                                in_lease = True

                                raise Exception('Parse error in leases file')

                elif key == 'failover':
                        in_failover = True
                elif key == '}':
                        if in_lease:
                                for k in valid_keys:
                                        if callable(valid_keys[k]):
                                                lease_rec[k] = lease_rec.get(k, '')
                                                lease_rec[k] = False

                                ip_address = lease_rec['ip_address']

                                if ip_address in leases_db:
                                        leases_db[ip_address].insert(0, lease_rec)

                                        leases_db[ip_address] = [lease_rec]

                                lease_rec = {}
                                in_lease = False

                        elif in_failover:
                                in_failover = False
                                raise Exception('Parse error in leases file')

                elif key in valid_keys:
                        if in_lease:
                                value = line[(line.index(key) + len(key)):]
                                value = value.strip().rstrip(';').rstrip()

                                if callable(valid_keys[key]):
                                        lease_rec[key] = valid_keys[key](value)
                                        lease_rec[key] = True

                                raise Exception('Parse error in leases file')

                        if in_lease:
                                raise Exception('Parse error in leases file')

        if in_lease:
                raise Exception('Parse error in leases file')

        return leases_db

def round_timedelta(tdelta):
        return datetime.timedelta(tdelta.days,
                tdelta.seconds + (0 if tdelta.microseconds < 500000 else 1))

def timestamp_now():
        n = datetime.datetime.utcnow()
        return datetime.datetime(n.year, n.month, n.day, n.hour, n.minute,
                n.second + (0 if n.microsecond < 500000 else 1))

def lease_is_active(lease_rec, as_of_ts):
        return timestamp_is_between(as_of_ts, lease_rec['starts'],

def ipv4_to_int(ipv4_addr):
        parts = ipv4_addr.split('.')
        return (int(parts[0]) << 24) + (int(parts[1]) << 16) + \
                (int(parts[2]) << 8) + int(parts[3])

def select_active_leases(leases_db, as_of_ts):
        retarray = []
        sortedarray = []

        for ip_address in leases_db:
                lease_rec = leases_db[ip_address][0]

                if lease_is_active(lease_rec, as_of_ts):
                        ip_as_int = ipv4_to_int(ip_address)
                        insertpos = bisect.bisect(sortedarray, ip_as_int)
                        sortedarray.insert(insertpos, ip_as_int)
                        retarray.insert(insertpos, lease_rec)

        return retarray


myfile = open('/var/lib/dhcp/dhcpd.leases', 'r')
leases = parse_leases_file(myfile)

now = timestamp_now()
report_dataset = select_active_leases(leases, now)

print('| IP Address      | MAC Address       | Expires (days,H:M:S) | Client Hostname ')

for lease in report_dataset:
        print('| ' + format(lease['ip_address'], '<15') + ' | ' + \
                format(lease['hardware'], '<17') + ' | ' + \
                format(str((lease['ends'] - now) if lease['ends'] != 'never' else 'never'), '>20') + ' | ' + \

print('| Total Active Leases: ' + str(len(report_dataset)))
print('| Report generated (UTC): ' + str(now))
  • I like this, as it filters out previously expired leases (unlike viewing /var/lib/dhcp/dhcpd.leases). Thanks for sharing.
    – Wireblue
    Jul 13, 2015 at 1:05
  • 3
    No problem, tell your friends Jul 13, 2015 at 1:06
  • 1
    How about this? github.com/MartijnBraam/python-isc-dhcp-leases
    – Mayur
    Jan 15, 2019 at 12:55
  • Thanks Luke. I shared a link to this page on the Facebook WelcomeToLinux page.
    – LinuxGuru
    Nov 30, 2019 at 17:43
  • Hey Luke, do you have a gitlab or github account? I've changed this code a bit to work for my system and have made some visual changes to make it prettier. I would like to give you the credit for this. Also, you didn't add any licenses, so I would like to add one if you want. I'll add comments to the readme file to give you the credit if you get back to me. Here are my changes: gitlab.com/coryhilliard/python-dhcp-leases Jul 6, 2021 at 18:52

If you are using NetworkManager (which is default in many distributions) the .lease files is located in /var/lib/NetworkManager

$ sudo ls -al /var/lib/NetworkManager/*.lease
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 399 Jun 12 10:23 /var/lib/NetworkManager/dhclient-6aef9d76-0f6a-46e3-8235-a4405a695b1a-eth0.lease
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 856 Jun 12 10:30 /var/lib/NetworkManager/dhclient-86e97e19-0a11-4606-8edf-5a179ec6f82e-eth0.lease
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 800 Jun 12 10:30 /var/lib/NetworkManager/dhclient-d0f4b29f-3059-4f55-a8d2-34db34310384-wlan0.lease
  • 1
    Not sure if this is because of Desktop vs Server or version change but this is the correct location for Ubuntu Desktop 14.04, it was not in /var/lib/dhcp/dhcpd.leases as other answers have suggested. Mar 7, 2017 at 21:46

Try enter this command:

  • 1
    You might consider including a description from the man page to make this answer better... IMHO, this should be a more seen/recognized answer as this command avoids several misunderstandings that inexperienced users can run into when manually looking at the leases file. Jul 11, 2022 at 16:18

Here's a great command using CLI - You can go to the directory where dhcpd.log file is located and do:

tail -f dhcpd.log

That will show you leases as they are being issued by the server in real time.

You can also do:

cat /var/lib/dhcpd/dhcpd.leases to see leases that are in the lease file dhcpd.leases

  • On Arch Linux the directory for the leases defaults to /var/lib/dhcp.
    – hermannk
    Mar 27 at 13:42

I use this script:


my $VERSION=0.03;

my $leases_file = "/var/lib/dhcp/dhcpd.leases";

use strict;
use Date::Parse;

my $now = time;
my %seen;       # leases file has dupes (because logging failover stuff?). This hash will get rid of them.

open(L, $leases_file) or die "Cant open $leases_file : $!\n";
undef $/;
my @records = split /^lease\s+([\d\.]+)\s*\{/m, <L>;
shift @records; # remove stuff before first "lease" block

## process 2 array elements at a time: ip and data
foreach my $i (0 .. $#records) {
    next if $i % 2;
    my $ip;
    ($ip, $_) = @records[$i, $i+1];

    s/^\n+//;     # && warn "leading spaces removed\n";
    s/[\s\}]+$//; # && warn "trailing junk removed\n";

    my ($s) = /^\s* starts \s+ \d+ \s+ (.*?);/xm;
    my ($e) = /^\s* ends   \s+ \d+ \s+ (.*?);/xm;

    my $start = str2time($s);
    my $end   = str2time($e);

    my %h; # to hold values we want

    foreach my $rx ('binding', 'hardware', 'client-hostname') {
        my ($val) = /^\s*$rx.*?(\S+);/sm;
        $h{$rx} = $val;

    my $formatted_output;

    if ($end && $end < $now) {
        $formatted_output =
            sprintf "%-15s : %-26s "              . "%19s "         . "%9s "     . "%24s    "              . "%24s\n",
                    $ip,     $h{'client-hostname'}, ""              , $h{binding}, "expired"               , scalar(localtime $end);
    else {
        $formatted_output =
            sprintf "%-15s : %-26s "              . "%19s "         . "%9s "     . "%24s -- "              . "%24s\n",
                    $ip,     $h{'client-hostname'}, "($h{hardware})", $h{binding}, scalar(localtime $start), scalar(localtime $end);

    next if $seen{$formatted_output};
    print $formatted_output;

You may want to adapt it to suit your needs.

There are also Perl modules which you may want to try if you have a vague notion of Perl: Net::ISC::DHCPd::Leases, POE::Filter::DHCPd::Lease or Text::DHCPLeases.

The last one can be installed with

sudo apt-get install libtext-dhcpleases-perl

The others with cpan -i.

Unfortunately, I haven't tried any of them, because I already had my script when I noticed them.

  • I wanted to try your Perl script but got an error. Can't use global $_ in "my" at ./bin/ShowDhcpLeases.pl line 22, near ", $_"
    – LinuxGuru
    Nov 30, 2019 at 17:47
  • @LinuxGuru: That is just a warning, and the script still works (at least for me). But anyway, I changed it to remove that warning.
    – mivk
    Dec 3, 2019 at 13:10

If you want something in a GUI, take a look at Glass. It runs as a web-app, and provides access to your DHCPd config file, as well as the leases. It uses graphs and stats, which are helpful if you have multiple subnets or pools.

I also like that it alerts me if activity seems off - devices not getting addresses en masse, or too many requests from single clients. I've been using it for a month now, and I love it.

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